Obituary of William Sager (1935 – 2021) – Fairbanks, AK
Bill was born August 28, 1935 in Missoula, Montana. He was the only child of Gene and Hettie Sager, but had many uncles, aunts and cousins in Missoula. At the age of 10, he traveled alone from Missoula by plane, bus and train to join his parents who had moved to Fairbanks to seek work on the DEW Line.
From his parents, Bill inherited his unwavering faith in God and the Catholic Church. He never shied away from hard work, always put his family and especially his beloved wife, Shirley, first. He treated everyone he met with dignity and respect. Bill and Shirley were longtime parishioners of Immaculate Conception Church, where they married in 1959 and baptized their six children. They sent all the kids to Immaculate Conception Elementary School and Monroe Catholic High School.
Bill and Shirley volunteered countless hours in schools and church, and Bill served for many years on the Fairbanks Catholic School Board. As the Diocese’s unofficial maintenance plumber, Bill frequently answered calls without a heater amid cold, dark winter nights for Catholic schools, churches, Convent, Brother Fox Residence, and Teachers’ Residence. Jesuit volunteers Loyola Hall, pro bono.
As a devoted father, Bill instilled in the growing family a love for the Alaskan outdoors, teaching them to hunt and fish in the Clearwater cabin he built as a young man. He was a volunteer for the Alaska Outdoor Council and has continued to support the organization with donations over the years. Bill also spent many seasons hunting sheep with his lifelong friend Seward Olson, moose hunting in the Yukon with his stepfather Chet Jackson, and aerial wolf hunting with Frank Warren and Seward – all experiences that made her eyes shine!
In his early teens, Bill was a newspaper delivery boy for the News-Miner, working the road in the downtown “Red Light” district, bars and on Ladd AFB where he traveled by bus daily. At 18, he started working as a garden bird for Don Chandler at Chandler Plumbing & Heating. At 19, Bill joined Local 375 of the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union, participating in the four-year apprenticeship program, becoming a journeyman. During this time, Bill worked long stretches at remote locations such as Tin City. Eventually, he went to work full time in town for Chandler P&H as a project foreman, then in the office as a self-taught engineer in charge of project estimation. Chandler P&H was his sole employer for decades. Bill eventually became Don Chandler’s business partner and obtained his license as a master plumber and administrator, becoming the sole owner upon Don’s death in 1989.
At Chandler P&H, Bill has worked on dozens of Fairbanks construction projects, including many UAF, Fort Wainwright, and Eielson AFB buildings. He was perhaps most proud of his latest construction job – the Marriott Springhill Suites on Cushman. During his years at Chandler P&H, Bill was fortunate to have the constant dedication and experience of Betty Young, the company’s accountant. Even though – much to Betty’s disappointment – Bill didn’t always agree, he knew he could trust her wise advice, which always had the best interests of entrepreneurship.
In addition to his work at Chandler P&H, Bill served as Chairman of the Plumbers and Pipefitters Pension Fund for a number of years, and was also Executive Director of Mechanical Contractors of Fairbanks prior to his final retirement. His career with Chandler lasted 50 years and he was a member of Local 375 for over 60 years.
Bill and Shirley were treated to a Caribbean cruise retreat gift and the rest of the family joined them on the trip along with many close friends.
They became snowbirds, spending winters in Mesa, Arizona, and summers in their cabin in Clearwater. Bill and Shirley really enjoyed their winters golfing in Mesa, as well as traveling to Hawaii, a tradition that has continued for years with their closest friends Mike and Joanne Sexton. They really enjoyed being next to the Sextons and Rutlands in Arizona. Another close friend and former partner of Bill during his tenure on the board of trustees of the trust fund was Duane Keil of Scottsdale, who also played golf with Bill, Shirley, the Sextons and Rutlands in Arizona at the Sun Fountain and on every other golf course they could find. .
But nothing has surpassed Bill and Shirley’s enjoyment of their precious Clearwater cabin where they spent virtually every summer weekend, and after retirement, entire summers with family, extended family and many friends. Dear. Bill had the foresight as a single man to acquire the site, spending the next 70+ years improving and expanding it from his original 8 by 10 log cabin to a summer. Bill and Shirley were able to enjoy this paradise together for a few years before Shirley passed away. Bill continued to spend time at Clearwater each summer. It was a challenge to bring him there over the past few years, but as a family we made it happen. We all felt immense gratitude to Bill who was able to be there for several weeks in his Clearwater home last summer, where he truly felt “at home”.
Throughout his life, Bill was loved and respected by his family, friends and community as a man of complete selflessness and integrity, with a wonderfully dry sense of humor and faith. very private and durable. At his retirement dinner, his close friend from their youth, Vern Boyles, noted that in all the years he had known Bill, he had never heard a single negative word about him or from him. . It was a fitting tribute to a man of remarkable kindness.
Bill was predeceased by his wife Shirley of 54, parents Gene and Hettie of Missoula, mother and stepfather Martha and Chet Jackson of Mesa, brother and sister-in-law Jack and Marion Jackson of Central , and his son-in-law Darryl Claxton of the North Pole.
Bill is survived by his daughter and son-in-law Toni and Dave Claxton of Fairbanks, his granddaughter Jennifer and Mike Schumacher, and his great-grandchildren Jackson and Charlotte of Fairbanks, and his grandson Matt Claxton of Boise, Idaho ; daughter and son-in-law Tracy and Ted Morphis of Fairbanks, granddaughter Tiffany (Aaron) Rodriguez of Hollister, Calif., grandson Dustin Wilson and great grandson Cayden of Gilbert, Arizona; Tok Cutoff’s daughter and son-in-law Teresa and Bill Albaugh; his son Gene Sager and his grandchildren Jordyn, Jenna and Evan of Fairbanks; son Brant Sager of Fairbanks; and her daughter Martha “Marty” Sager and her grandchildren Sage, River and Silas of Fairbanks. Bill is also survived by his nephew Kirk Jackson and his wife Thursha of Clayton, Washington and his grandnephews Jake and Garrett; and by her niece Kimberly Steik and husband Bill, and her grandnephew Ian McArdle of Ninilchik and other uncles, aunts and cousins in Montana and across the country.
The funeral will be on Saturday October 23, 2021; 11 am-11:30am, rosary; noon, funeral mass; 1:15 p.m., reception, Chapel of the Holy Family at Fairbanks Catholic Schools, 615 Monroe Street, common school area (entrance at the entrance gates at 615 Monroe Street).
Family only, internment at Northern Lights Memorial Park, Catholic Section, 2318 Yankovich Road.
The family requests that donations in lieu of flowers be made to the following people:
• (William E. Sager) in memo, “HIPOW”, Monroe Foundation, 718 Betty St., Fairbanks, AK, 99701, 907-313-3291
• FMH Hospice Services, Hospice of the Tanana Valley, 2001 Gillam Way, Fairbanks, AK, 99701-6026, 907-458-3090
Please visit www.legacy.com/obituaries/newsminer to sign an online guestbook.
Condolences can be sent to the Sager family at Sager Family, 531 Golden Leaf Drive, Fairbanks, AK, 99712.
Posted by Daily News-Miner on October 5, 2021.